5 February 2013

Gambia: National Assembly Ratifies Islamic Court of Justice

The Gambia lawmakers yesterday ratified the motion on eight resolutions from the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) on the 'International Islamic Court of Justice' that was tabled by Hon. Lamin Jobarteh, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice at the Legislative Chambers in Banjul.

"The primary objective of one of the resolutions is the ratification of an Islamic Court of Justice", asserted Hon. Lamin Jobarteh, Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

The Justice Minister in moving the motion before the deputies redefined the role of courts in solving problems between parties. He explained that the Islamic Sharia laws are not in conflict with the national laws of our country. He defined these laws as the bedrock for all laws in the world.

"Wishing to speed up the establishment of the International Islamic Court of Justice and the commencement of its work so that it may contribute to the peaceful settlement of disputes among member states", the resolution highlighted.

The document emphasized follow up of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. The Charter calls for promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all people without distinction as to race, sex or religion. It also calls for coordination among member states in the field of human rights. It calls for the United Nations (UN) to define terrorism and distinguish it from people's struggle for national liberation.

In the meantime, the resolution is calling for a follow up of the code of conduct for combating international terrorism. It also mentioned the strengthening of Islamic solidarity in combating hijacking. It puts emphasis on the contribution of the OIC on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights.

The motion was seconded by Hon. Mam Cherno Jallow, National Assembly Member (NAM) for Upper Niumi. He said the resolution is a move in the right direction as Islam taught the best practice of human rights. He urged the members to support the motion. "Let us look at it very critically so that we will not be defeated by human rights on political agenda", said Hon. Jallow.

However, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, NAM for Serrekunda East and Majority Leader commended the Minister of Justice for tabling the resolutions before the Assembly. He emphasized the need for people to recognize Islam as a religion of peace. He highlighted some of the fundamental principles of Islam which he said promotes and encourages human rights without distinction to race, sex or religion.

"People should move away from the notion of labeling all Muslims as terrorists", asserted Hon. Jatta.

The Majority Leader has said Islam condemns terrorism but argued that the people who are fighting for self determination cannot be referred to as terrorists.

Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, Speaker of the National Assembly expressed disappointment in the late arrival of the document to the Assembly in less than 24 hours. He said most members were not fully prepared for the debate because of the lack of time. He quizzed the reason for not bringing the document on time to the Assembly.

"I think the bill should have come earlier but it is never too late", he pointed out.

The Justice Minister on his part asserted that the sentiments expressed by the various speakers were relevant. He highlighted the importance of human rights which he said is always easy to say than done. He quizzed as to whether the International Criminal Court (ICC) knows the values and norms of Islam.

"The ICC cannot adjudicate the Islamic cultural beliefs and values of our countries", said Minister Jobarteh.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice said he believes certain things happening in our society should be taken to Islamic Court of Justice. He urged the Muslim countries to emulate the European Union (EU) to address the problems affecting them.

Meanwhile, several members made interventions including the NAMs for Banjul North, NAM for Niamina East and Foni Kansala among others. Subsequently the motion was adopted and the session adjourned Sine dine.

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